How to Handle Common Conflicts With Your Growing Kids
The "I Just Want To Have Fun" Fight
The Situation: Teen wants to go to a party on Saturday night, but parents wonder if there will be a chaperone.
What's Really Going On: Having fun is a big priority for teenager, and they often see parents as fun's enemy. This fight is based on a simple miscommunication: A teen's intent is to have a good time, and the parents' intent is to be sure that their teen is safe. When parents limit fun or inquire about it for safety reasons, teenagers feel like they are being attacked or stifled.
How To Solve It: The best way to stop the "I just want to have fun" fight is to make sure that your teen knows you are on his side. As a parent, you want your teenager have a good time, but you just want him to have safe and appropriate fun. Therefore, it is important that, when your teen begins to inquire about a "just want to have fun" activity, you address his emotional intent before yours. It would sound something like this:
Parent: "Wow, that party sounds like it might be a way to unwind from the week and hang out with friends."
Teen: "Yeah, it has been a really stressful week."
Parent: "I'm sorry—that is always frustrating. Well, I want to make sure you have some fun this weekend. So if you can help me just figure out what parents will be around at the party, then we can both relax on Saturday night."
Often teenagers can recognize that both emotional intents are then being recognized.